What? Me… Writer?

24 10 2011

Hi, my name is Julia Indigo, and I’m a writer. Sort of… I mean, I am a writer, but that isn’t really my name; it’s close to it.

If you’d told me this time last year that I’d be 100,000 words in to the first draft of a novel today, I would have said that you were nuts. I never wanted to be a writer. I’d never even considered writing at all. I’ve been a professional classical musician my entire adult life, and I started playing music in the fourth grade. That profession has been my bread and butter ever since, though through increasingly leaner and leaner years. Thank you, Wall Street, for this collapsing economy. But I digress.

For whatever reason, long about February 2011 a character leapt into my consciousness, full-blown. Where he came from, I don’t know, but Steven is almost as real to me as my ex-husband is. My very best friend and sister-by-choice, Jennifer, is a writer and a marvelous poet; she sent me a handful of pages of her (unfortunately, stalled) novel back in late January. I was gobsmacked, but then a wee small voice spoke up “I wonder if I could do this, too?” In an instant I’d fired up my laptop, and BOOM, this man’s life poured onto the page, in a torrent.

Yep. It was a deluge. 40,000 words in just under a month, before I cried “UNCLE” and quit for a bit. I was hauling the Dell Mini everywhere with me, words pouring out of my fingers. I woke up in the morning and grabbed the iPhone and fired up the dictation app as I headed to the bathroom, because ideas were flying out of my head so fast that I would’ve never made it to rehearsal if I’d tried to type it all up. Steven went on walks with me, re-living his life story, episode by episode; I had to run back home and fire up the computer to brain dump that bit, in order to make more head room for subsequent ideas.

I read scene after scene to Jennifer, who encouraged me again and again to keep on writing. “What? Me? A writer?” “Yes,” she would say, “You are a natural! Keep going!” … so I did. Actually, it wasn’t as though I had much of a choice in the matter; I had to write. And the scenes were often out of sequence, one instant he’s twenty-two and in love, then next he’s thirty-nine and in the middle of an awful divorce, as I page to and fro through the manuscript to find the proper place in the chronology for the scene I just wrote.

And it is so much FUN! I absolutely adore writing – there is nothing more satisfying than putting fingers to keyboard to see what happens next.

By now the story of this man’s life covers almost 50 years, and I’m not done yet. I know that I’ll have to ditch much of what I’ve written, but that seems inconsequential to me right now. He’s having his way with me – his story WILL be told, one way or the other.

It’s fascinating to me that when I’m deep into writing, I can practically feel his presence. I’m a visual and tactile person – no, that’s not exactly right. I’m visual and kinesthetic, if that is an actual word. I can sense his energy.

Is his story worth telling? I think so. The bigger question is, will I be able to tell it in a compelling enough manner for his story to be published and sent out to the wider world? Perhaps. But until I pull up that file and start in again (it’s been over six weeks since I’ve written – life got in the way), we’ll never find out.

How have your stories come to you? Do you start with a premise, a scene, or a character like me? Do you write chronologically, or not? Do you outline first, then write scene by scene, or do you let the story take you where it will? Let me know in the comments, if you like.

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11 responses

24 10 2011
rosellezubey

Hi Julia-Really liked your post. I can relate to what you are saying, although my situation is a little different that yours. I’ve wanted to be a writer from the time I was 14 years old, but I never had the confidence to pursue it until now. (I’m now going to be 53 in December.)You have made quite an accomplishment for yourself. You should really be proud of what you have done so far. Keep going. The world is wide open to new stories right now. I’m working on the idea for a story that I put aside in 2005. It wasn’t my choice to work on it again, but God or a higher power told me to start working on it again and now I just can’t stop. My characters really speak to me, too. They even teach me how I want to live my life. Isn’t that wild? Well I’ll close this comment. Take care. rosellezubey

24 10 2011
hungry4momos

Hi Julia! So happy to meet fellow writers out there. I think its great that you’ve got the courage to be able to get your story out to a wider audience. I have yet to pluck up such courage. I think if a story is relevant to you, then it will always be relevant to an audience. We’re all human, and we all share, want, feel, desire, the same things at the crux of it. I think you should post up little excerpts of your story. I want to hear Steven’s story too.

Hopefully reading about your journey will encourage me to kick-start mine. Love the post! Keep them coming 🙂

24 10 2011
Julia Indigo

Kia Ora, rosellezubey! I just clicked on your avatar and saw that greeting. Are you from NZ? I’ve always wanted to travel there, but Sydney is as close as I’ve gotten.

Thank you for your comment. I just turned 54, so this is a midlife change for me. I was much encouraged by Kristen Lamb’s book “We Are Not Alone” – about social networking and writers. I read it yesterday, and have gotten on WP/FB/twitter today under my pen name. Big fun!

Hungry4momos, thanks for the comment, and I hope you’re right re: relevancy. I may post some of my story, but per the advice I’ve gotten, probably not much, at least, not here. But you’ve encouraged me to at least post about my Protagonist. Perhaps in a week or so.

xox

24 10 2011
hungry4momos

Looking forward to it! I’ve always been tempted to post snippets of my own stories up, but I think a fear of rejection is preventing me right now. Feel free to check out any of my ramblings…you know, if you felt so inclined. Cheers, Julia!

http://www.stowawaytrain.com

25 10 2011
Julia Indigo

I see you look at DYAC, too. If I had a sentence for every five minutes I’ve spent looking (and howling with laughter) at DYAC, I’d have three 85,000 word novels written by now.

I appreciated your thoughts on OWS. I’m very sympathetic with the protesters, fwiw. xo

25 10 2011
rosellezubey

Hi Julia-I just got your message. I am from the United States. I don’t know how I wound up with an avatar from Australia. That is actually the beauty of the Internet. You can connect to sites from all over the world.

I’m going to check out that book you mentioned because there are times lately when I have felt lonely and like the world won’t cut me a break. Perhaps I can find something that will help me feel better so I can be productive.

Talk to you soon. Take care!

25 10 2011
Julia Indigo

I know that lonely feeling, too. Many hugs to you!

25 10 2011
Jennette Marie Powell

So exciting when a story comes to you like this! Mine usually come to me as a situation first, then the characters who’ll be most challenged by that situation eventually appear. I have to outline, or it’s hello writer’s block. But the characters don’t leave me alone, so I write. My current release actually came to me in a similar way to yours, but I eventually reined him/it in and was able to split it into two books. Maybe you will too! Good luck and keep having fun!

25 10 2011
Julia Indigo

Yeah, I’m having a heck of a time reining in Steven, and had actually thought of splitting it into two books. I’m also considering some kind of flashback scenario, by way of explaining his dysfunction. Almost all my scenes are given a location/date/time (not sure where I picked that up, but I saw that somewhere) kind of like 48 hours (lol). But I don’t want to lose my readers… and the flashback scenario would probably be too much work. That’s why I’m thinking that I might need to just ditch some of it, or turn it into at trilogy. At the rate I’m going it’s going to be 150,000 words by the time I finish the first draft, and I don’t think I’m particularly wordy.

What is the name of your current book? I’d love to have a look at it!

30 10 2011
Kate Policani

I had the exact same experience, except I was so dense, I didn’t realize I’d been writing since High School. Go for it! Thanks for the follow!

30 10 2011
Julia Indigo

Thanks, Kate!
I’m in the process of digging deep into structure, which is new for me. I think I’m going to love it!

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